Science looks for differences between sexes and runs into prejudices

Each publication about whether or not there are significant variations in the brains of men and women generates heated reactions even among the scientific community.

Many warn that the area advances ballasted by biases that induce to ignore the evidences, to a bad design of the experiments and to errors of interpretation, in a vicious circle that perpetuates the stereotypes.

I once attended a congress on feminists in biology, “says British evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith to his colleague Richard Dawkins.

They were kind people, they did not attack me.”

The conversation takes place towards 1996. Maynard Smith, of about 76 years old then, admits to coincide with two of the main feminist ideas in that encounter.

That “something must be done” against the discrimination of the scientists; and that, if there were more women among the students of animal behavior, “they would have seen different things”.

A quarter of a century has passed and the biases continue to focus the debate on whether or not there are differences in behavior between the sexes -differences in addition to pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding-.

The gap between those who deny great brain variations and those who, on the other hand, consider them demonstrated, is still more open today than ever, and for many the cause lies in the deep prejudices that weigh on the area.

The gap between those who deny great brain variations and those who, on the other hand, consider them demonstrated, is still more open than ever

The discussion is heated and not only among the public, but among scientists with the maximum pedigree.

The last sample was seen a few weeks ago, in the reactions to the publication of Gina Rippon’s book. This expert in cognitive neuroimaging at the University of Aston (United Kingdom) states that differences have been sought

Rippon joins a recent wave of authors, such as Cordelia Fine, psychologist and professor of science history at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and mother of the term neurosexism.

And journalist Ángela Saini, who denounce that prejudices about differences between men and women condition studies that end up showing only what you want to see.

As a result, “neurobass” is generated -Rippon says- that reinforces stereotypes that have already been proven false, such as that they excel in mathematics and they in verbal communication, or that they are more promiscuous and have a tendency to lead.

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